Pepper’s NHL Playoff Rundown

The wait is finally over, playoff hockey is here!

The NHL postseason is one of the most exciting times of the year and it won’t disappoint. Some teams were able to lock up their playoff position a while ago and other teams needing the last game of the regular season to lock up their spot.

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It’s been a whirlwind of a year from the Nashville Predators winning the President’s Trophy to the newly added Vegas Golden Knights making history as they made the playoffs in their first year as a NHL team.

With that being said, there are a few questions looming over certain teams as the begin their pursuit for the Stanley Cup. Can the Pittsburgh Penguins win their third Stanley Cup Championship in a row? Can the Vegas Golden Knights continue to make history as they look for a deep playoff run? Will the Washington Capitals finally make it to the finals? Can the Nashville Predators get retribution for last year’s Stanley Cup finals upset? This is just the beginning…I will be taking you all on a trip through the first round of the playoffs, with an inside look at each matchup as well as my predictions for each series.

Nashville Predators (1) vs Colorado Avalanche (WC2)

Regular season records- NSH: 53-18-11 117pts

   COL: 43-30-9 95pts

Season Series: 10/17/17 NSH 4, COL 1

11/18/17 NSH 5, COL 2

3/4/18 NSH 4, COL 3 (OT)

3/16/18 NSH 4, COL 2

On the Lookout- NSH: Viktor Arvidsson (29G, 61PTS)

   COL: Nathan MacKinnon (39G, 97PTS)

Goalies: NSH- Pekka Rinne 42-13-4, GAA- 2.31, SV%- .927

 COL- Semyon Varlamov 24-16-6, GAA- 2.68, SV%- .920

My Prediction: Nashville Predators win in 5 games

With the Predators sweeping the Avalanche in the regular season they have a huge advantage in this matchup. However, I don’t see a series sweep the first round. The Avalanche still have enough fire power to keep up with the Predators, but I just don’t see it being enough to solve Pekka Rinne. The Predators have been a power house this year and I believe they will continue and defeat the Avalanche.

Winnipeg Jets (2) vs Minnesota Wild (3)

Regular season records- WPG: 52-20-10 114pts

   MIN: 45-26-11 104pts

Season Series: 10/20/17 WPG 4, MIN 3

10/31/17 WPG 2, MIN 1

11/27/17 WPG 7, MIN 2

1/13/18 MIN 4, WPG 1

On the Lookout: WPG- Patrik Laine (44G, 70PTS)

   MIN- Eric Staal (42G, 76PTS)

Goalies: WPG- Connor Hellebuyck 44-11-9, GAA- 2.36, SV%- .924

  MIN- Devan Dubnyk 35-16-7, GAA- 2.52, SV%- .918

My Prediction: Winnipeg Jets win in 6 games

The Jets won the regular season series 3-1 and for the most part the games were close in score. Winnipeg has the rookie Patrik Laine who had a breakout year being a major force to the Jets offense. The Minnesota Wild isn’t a team to take lightly however. I believe the Wild will give the Jets a hard-fought series, but not enough to close it out.

Vegas Golden Knights (1) vs LA Kings (WC1)

Regular season records- VGK: 51-24-7 109pts

   LAK: 45-29-8 98pts

Season Series: 11/19/17 VGK 4, LAK 2

12/28/17 VGK 3, LAK 2 (OT)

2/26/18 LAK 3, VGK 2 (OT)

2/27/18 LAK 4, VGK 1

On the Lookout: VGK- William Karlsson (43G, 78PTS)

   LAK- Anze Kopitar (35G, 92PTS)

Goalies: VGK- Marc-Andre Fleury 29-13-4, GAA- 2.24, SV%- .927

  LAK- Jonathan Quick 33-28-3, GAA- 2.40, SV%- .921

My Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights win in 6 games

The Golden Knights have taken the NHL by storm. They have put together a record breaking year with wins, overall points and making playoffs in their first year. The team of misfits have really come together to become a top competitive dark horse of the league. They also have 3x Stanley Cup Champion Marc-Andre Fleury in between the pipes giving the Golden Knights the knowledge about what it takes to be a champion. On the other hand, they are playing a team who won it all in 2012 and 2014. It will an exciting series to watch. One where I believe the Golden Knights will continue their historic season as they win their first ever playoff series.

Anaheim Ducks (2) vs San Jose Sharks (3)

Regular season records- ANA: 44-25-13 101pts

   SJS: 45-27-10 100pts

Season Series: 11/4/17 SJS 2, ANA 1 (SO)

11/20/17 ANA 3, SJS 2 (SO)

1/21/18 SJS 6, ANA 2

2/11/18 SJS 3, ANA 2 (SO)

On the Lookout: ANA- Rickard Rakell (34G, 69PTS)

   SJS- Logan Couture (34G, 61PTS)

Goalies: ANA- John Gibson 31-18-7, GAA- 2.43, SV%- .926

  SJS- Martin Jones 30-22-6, GAA- 2.55, SV%- .915

My Prediction: San Jose Sharks win in 7 games

Three out of the four games these two teams played against each other had to go to a shootout. These two teams have played each other tough. Being two out of the three teams in California there is already a rivalry between the two and matching up in the first round will only add fuel to the fire. This series is going to be a long hard-fought battle one in which I see the Sharks coming out on top. This is also my first upset prediction in the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Lightning (1) vs New Jersey Devils (WC2)

Regular season record- TBL: 54-23-5 113pts

  NJD: 44-29-9 97pts

Season Series: 10/17/17 NJD 5, TBL 4 (SO)

2/17/18 NJD 4, TBL 3

3/24/18 NJD 2, TBL 1

On the Lookout: TBL- Nikita Kucherov (39G, 100PTS)

   NJD- Taylor Hall (39G, 93PTS)

Goalies: TBL- Andrei Vasilevskiy 44-17-3, GAA- 2.62, SV%- .920

  NJD- Keith Kinkaid 26-10-3, GAA- 2.77, SV%- .913

My Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning win in 7 games

This is the only series in the first round where the two teams only played each other three times in the regular season. The Devils swept the Lightning in the regular season. Being one of the only teams to hand the Lightning 3 losses. The Lightning have been building the past few years and it finally has brought them to be one of the top competitors in the playoffs this year. The Devils have turned it around from last year being one of the bottom two teams in the NHL to making the playoffs. They’ve had the Lightning’s number this year, however I think the Lightning will strike and end the Devils season.

Boston Bruins (2) vs Toronto Maples Leafs (3)

Regular season records- BOS: 50-20-12 112pts

   TOR: 49-26-7 105pts

Season Series: 11/10/17 TOR 3, BOS 2 (OT)

11/11/17 TOR 4, BOS 1

2/3/18 BOS 4, TOR 1

2/24/18 TOR 4, BOS 3

On the Lookout: BOS- David Pastrnak (35G, 80PTS)

   TOR- James Van Riemsdyk (36G, 54PTS)

Goalies: BOS- Tuukka Rask 34-14-5, GAA- 2.36, SV%- .917

  TOR- Frederik Anderson 38-21-5, GAA- 2.81, SV%- .918

My Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs win in 6 games

This series bring an old and long-lasting rivalry back into the light. Two of the Original Six NHL teams will be set to battle it out in the first round of these playoffs. The regular season saw the Maple Leafs take the series 3-1 and I believe that even with the fire power and the acquisition of Rick Nash Boston won’t be able to take down the Leafs ending a successful year for the Bruins. This is my second upset of the first round.

Washington Capitals (1) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (WC1)

Regular season record- WSH: 49-26-7 105pts

 CBJ: 45-30-7 97pts

Season Series: 12/2/17 WSH 4, CBJ 3

2/6/18 WSH 3, CBJ 2

2/9/18 WSH 4, CBJ 2

2/26/18 CBJ 5, WSH 1

On the Lookout: WSH- Alexander Ovechkin (49G, 87PTS)

  CBJ- Artemi Panarin (27G, 82PTS)

Goalies: WSH- Philipp Grubauer 15-10-3, GAA- 2.35, SV%- .923

  CBJ- Sergei Bobrovsky 37-22-6, GAA- 2.42, SV%- .921

My Prediction: Washington Capitals win in 6 games

In the preseason the Capitals were nowhere near the conversations involving the winner of the Metropolitan Division and here they are sitting on top. Ovechkin came just 1 goal short of another 50-goal season scoring two in the last game of the season. Washington has had a few upsetting playoff runs in past years. They’re looking to change that with a team that on paper is a step down from last year, but anything can happen when you have number 8 on the ice. Columbus is looking to have a deep playoff run of their own, but in the end, I believe the Capitals will end the Blue Jackets season early.

Pittsburgh Penguins (2) vs Philadelphia Flyers (3)

Regular season record- PIT: 47-29-6 100pts

 PHI: 42-26-14 98pts

Season Series: 11/27/17 PIT 5, PHI 4 (OT)

1/2/18 PIT 5, PHI 1

3/7/18 PIT 5, PHI 2

3/25/18 PIT 5, PHI 4

On the Lookout: PIT- Evgeni Malkin (42G, 98PTS)

  PHI- Claude Giroux (34G, 102PTS)

Goalies: PIT- Matt Murray 27-16-3, GAA- 2.92, SV%- .907

  PHI- Brian Elliott 23-11-7, GAA- 2.66, SV%- .909

My Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins win in 5 games or Philadelphia Flyers win in 7 games

The battle for Pennsylvania. Flyers versus Penguins is always a hard-hitting, nail-biting playoff series no matter what happens in the regular season. This year the Penguins swept the Flyers winning the series 4-0 scoring 5 goals in each game. Even though the Penguins had the Flyers number there is always something about this playoff matchup that never lets any fan base down. This will be an interesting series to watch. The Flyers are looking to have a healthy goaltender for this run as it always seems to be the position haunting them. The Penguins are looking for a three peat, but the Flyers are looking to end that dream early. These are two teams that do not like each other so expect a battle of a series. I have two separate predictions for this series. The way the regular season went I see the Penguins beating the Flyers in 5, but being a Flyers fan, I believe if the Flyers win the series it’ll have to be in 7 games.

That is everything you need to know about all the matchups in the first round of the NHL playoffs. I’m expecting a very fast pace and enjoyable first round. Each one of these series are going to be interesting and exciting in their own way. Not one matchup will be a letdown for any fan watching. Enjoy round 1 of the playoffs and stay tuned for the second round as I will have all of my predictions and insiders once the first round is over!

-Anthony Calabrese

Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Contributor  

Twitter: @infinityintuit
Instagram: @infinityintuition

Flyers vs. Penguins

In my last post I was talking about a buzz in the city post Super Bowl 52. I wasn’t sure if we would ever lose another game, and since then we have had two of our big four sports teams clinch playoff spots, and Villanova won the National championship. If you think this is business as usual in the city of Philadelphia then you need to wake up and smell the playoff tulips.

Image result for flyers vs penguins

(Photo courtesy of www.phillyvoice.com)

The Philadelphia Flyers are first to accept the baton from Villanova’s dominant March run, and they hand they have been dealt is, lets just say the road will not be easy. This is a rivalry that is older than hockey, this is homegrown hatred right here the battle for the soul of our very own Keystone state, this is Pittsburgh versus Philadelphia. The big city vs. the once great steel city, now just a hub for alcohol abuse, poorly cooked chicken wings, and a hockey team lead by Tinker Bell’s pre-pubescent love child, yup Sidney Crosby. Penguins v Flyers is more than a playoff series, it more than a storied rivalry, this is a battle for pride in the east, and amongst two cities that will never stop fighting to be the sports team that Harrisburg should be fans of.

Philadelphia has something special going these days, and ill be damned if that damn black and yellow city of fools is going to be the one to end it. So without further delay, here is my preview of the series that will kick off this 2018 Playoffs for Lord Stanley’s Cup!

The opponent:

Forwards:  Everyone knows about the big three for the Pens: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel. These guys score a lot, and they make everyone on the ice better around them, but here’s something you might not know about one of the three stars wearing black and gold. Phil Kessel’s sister is better than him…seriously the dude gets his ass beat on the ice constantly by his little sister who has a gold medal, and has NEVER lost an NHL game. Neither are claims Phil can make I think it pretty clear who has the edge there, and we don’t have one guy on our team that has a sister better than them. This is a pretty huge edge the flyer need to exploit.

In all honesty this is a deadly attack, and if they get power play opportunity they will capitalize, so there’s the key to riding out the storm, stay out of the box!

Grade- (A-)

Defense: While their defense can absolutely struggle to clear the crease and force turnovers, they are very good at making passes to those dangerous forwards. Best way to nullify that is a good forecheck, and constant offensive pressure. Kris Letang & Justin Schultz have been longtime thorns in the side of flyers fans, but this series they fall!

Grade- (B)

Goalie: Matthew Murray is a very inconsistent goaltender that has the bad game ability the flyers need to take advantage of, but here’s the problem. Hes one of those guys that just finds another level after the regular season, and the kid can be as lights out as anyone come playoff time, if the flyers want to get it passed him they will have to shoot the puck as much as possible, cannot be waiting for the perfect pass, because this guy can save it.

Grade (B)

The Flyers!

Forwards:

The flyers have been hit by a bolt of lightning in the form of two young spry skaters. Nolan Patrick, and Travis Konechny have been absolute dynamos this year and they are only getting better. They didn’t put up the number you will see from Malkin and Kessel, but one day they will. They are part of the future of this league, and just like their captain I think they are about to have their breakout moments in their first playoff appearance. And speaking of the captain! If it wasn’t for wonder boy Connor Mcdavid in Edmunton I would say hes a lock for the Hart Trophy. Over 100 points for the first time in his career he lead this team in everything from heart, goals, assists, and attitude. There was a little whisper in Philadelphia about him not being the leader he needs to be, well he shut that shit down with an iron fist this year, and if he plays the way he usually does in the playoffs the flyers have every reason to believe they can win this series.

Grade (B+)

Defense:

The Flyers have two of the best young defensemen in the league and that is not the opinion of a bias Philly fan this is league recognized talent. Ivan Proverov has the best Defensive instincts I have ever seen on a 21 year old in his second year, he is a force to be reckoned with, and he will push anyone off the puck in any situation. Shayne Gostisbere may as well be a forward the way he rips pucks at the net, and as he grows on the defensive side of the puck he is becoming the new standard for offensive Blue liners in the league. Unfortunately the buck kind of stops there. Depth is an issue in our Defensive pairings and will be a problem against the Pens fire power.

Grade (B-)

Goalie:

All signs point to Brian Elliot as of now. The coach hasn’t tipped his hand yet, but the free agent signing from the off season who came over from the blues has had serious spirits of genius in net this season. Unfortunately a lengthy injury in the middle of the year threw off that momentum, and his return to the ice didn’t go as well as he had hoped. The potential is there, he just has to get hot fast and stay that way.

Grade (B-)

I think this series goes 6 games, and in the end the determining factor is whether or not the flyers can clear their own zone when they have leads, and control the puck in the offensive zone. Staying out of the box is important, but scoring goals, and commanding the flow of this series is more important. If they steal one from Pittsburgh in the first two  games, I think the flyer win the series!

Go Flyers!

Go Sixers!!

Go Phillies!!!

This city is alive, and anything can happen. The Eagles proved that. Lets earn, lets unite or die!

DON BRADLEY

Twitter: @infinityintuit
Instagram: @infinityintuition

 

John’s NHL Bracket

We’re still in bracket mode over here at Infinity Intuition. Here is what I think the NHL playoffs will look like.

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Round 1

EAST

Tampa wins 4-1

Boston wins 4-2

Washington wins 4-2

Pittsburgh wins 4-3

WEST

Nashville wins 4-0

Winnipeg wins 4-2

Las Vegas wins 4-1

San Jose wins 4-1

Round 2

EAST

Boston wins 4-3

Washington wins 4-2

WEST

Nashville wins 4-2

Las Vegas wins 4-2

Round 3

EAST

Washington wins 4-3

WEST

Nashville wins 4-1

Stanley Cup

Nashville wins 4-1

In these predictions:

My toughest pick: Boston over Tampa Bay. I think the Lightening are great and if they can overcome Boston, they can make it to the Stanley Cup Final. However, Boston has a tradition of winning, and simply finding ways to win. If I had to pick another tough match up, it would have been the San Jose and Anaheim series. Anaheim is hot right now, but I just have a hunch it might not last.

My easiest pick: Nashville over Colorado. I feel like Nashville is great on so many levels and Colorado will have a tough time keeping up.

 

Photo courtesy of NHL.com

Stay tuned for more predictions from our authors here at Infinity Intuition!

Til next time,

John

Twitter: @infinityintuit
Instagram: @infinityintuition

Lightning Strikes in Tampa

            TB goalPicture Courtesy of NHL.com

 

After a blowout loss on Thursday to the Carolina Hurricanes (29-25-11), the Philadelphia Flyers (34-20-11) look to get back on the winning side of things as they take on the top team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning (45-17-4). Today, the Flyers look to figure their offense out as they’ve only scored 1 goal in two games. The Lightning have to top offense in the NHL so, the Flyers needed a game plan to keep them in check. The starting goaltenders for the day were Petr Mrazek, for the Flyers, and Vezina candidate Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Lightning.

The start of the game needed to be pedal to the metal for the Flyers and they got off to a great start with a little help from the Lightning. At the 6:22 mark, Andrei Vasilevskiy tripped Taylor Leier to send the Flyers to the first powerplay of the game. Then with a 1:15 left in the powerplay Claude Giroux passed the puck to Nolan Patrick (10) who tipped the puck into the net to give the Flyers the 1-0 lead. Giroux (54) and Jakub Voracek (57) got the assists. Then, Giroux was called for a slashing penalty against Yanni Gourde to send the Lightning on their first powerplay of the game. 1:08 after the Flyers goal, the Lightning set up in the Flyers zone and Steven Stamkos took a slap shot a put it passed Mrazek for his 26th goal of the year and on the powerplay. Victor Hedman (37) and Nikita Kucherov (50) had the assists on the goal. The game tied 1-1, it was non-stop after that. 14:30 into the period the Lightning turned the puck over to Voracek who shot the puck, got the rebound, shot again and scored his 14th goal of the year. Nolan Patrick (10) caused the turnover and got the lone assist on the play taking back the lead 2-1. The Flyers didn’t stop there. With a 1:53 left in the period, the Flyers were charging into the Lightning zone and Robert Hagg (3) went to the middle of the ice, took a wrist shot and scored to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead. Scott Laughton (9) and Ivan Provorov (19) got the helpers on the goal. The shot total at the end of the period was 14-6 in favor of the Flyers.

The Flyers looked to continue the offensive power that they had in the 1st period, but it didn’t start off that way. 5:57 into the period, Victor Hedman took a shot from the corner and it went off Valtteri Filppula and into the net for Hedman’s 10th goal of the season. It was an unfortunate bounce for the Flyers. Stamkos (48) and Kucherov (51) got the assists to cut the lead to 3-2. Trying to hold onto the lead, the Lightning had the momentum and they were riding it. The puck bounced off the wall and onto the stick of Dan Girardi who took a slapshot and scored for his 4th of the season and his first time against the Flyers in his career. Stamkos (49) and Hedman (38) got the assists on the goal to tie the game at 3-3. Shortly after, there was a delayed call against the Lightning and the Flyers had possession in the offensive zone. Jori Lehtera danced around a couple players and took a simple wrist shot with traffic in front and scored his 2nd goal of the year. Jordan Weal (10) and Filppula (18) got the assists to help put the Flyers up 4-3. The period ended with a shot total of 11-10 in favor of the Flyers.

The 3rd period started off once again in the Flyers favor. There was a faceoff in the Lightning zone and the Flyers won the faceoff. The puck was dropped back to Provorov who walked towards the net, shot the puck and scored his 12th of the season to put the Flyers up 5-3. Filppula (19) had the only assist on the goal by winning the faceoff. After the early goal the game shifted towards the Lightning. At 4:23 into the period the Lightning went into the Flyers zone shot the puck, but Mrazek saved it and let up a rebound. J.T. Miller (14) took the rebound and scored his first as a Lightning. Gourde (28) and Brayden Point (30) got the assists and the goal once again cutting the lead 5-4. It was all Lightning for most of this period. At 7:38 into the period the Lightning had a two-on-one and Stamkos was there to bury the puck for his second of the night and his 27th of the year. Kucherov (52) and Alex Killorn (27) got the assists to help tie the game 5-5, as the Flyers watched their two-goal lead go away. But, it didn’t stop there. The Lightning once again had the puck in the Flyers zone and Hedman (11) came in, took a slapshot and it went through the 5-hole of Mrazek to give the Lightning their first lead of the game at 6-5. Stamkos (50) had the only helper on the play. It was the Lightning’s 3rd goal on 5 shots. With time winding down the Flyers were in desperate need of a goal to tie the game and force it to overtime, the puck was in the Lightning zone and the Flyers had control. Voracek went to pass the puck across ice and it hit a Lightning player who was tangled up with Provorov. Provorov dove to hit the puck to Couturier who then passed it to Giroux and he put the puck in the net for his 23rd goal of the year. Couturier (34) and Provorov (20) got the assists to tie the game up at 6-6. It was the 5th time the game was tied. The period ended with a shot total of 15-14 in favor of the Lightning.

The game being tied at 6 with regulation not being enough brought it to overtime. The Flyers have a record of 8-5 and the Lightning’s record is 5-2 in overtime period this season. The OT period saw an early penalty on Kucherov to give the Flyers a 4-on-3 powerplay. After the, the Flyers dominated most of the period, but Vasilevskiy answered everything the Flyers threw at him. At the end of the period the Lightning managed a couple shots, but to no prevail. The period ended with a tied 4-4 shot total which kind of followed the theme of the game today. The game shot total was 43-35 in favor of the Flyers.

When the overtime period wasn’t enough it was up to the shootout to determine who got the all-important 2nd point of the game. Going into the shootout the Flyers had a record of 2-5 and the Lightning had a 4-2 record. The results of the shootout are as follows:

Round 1:

TBL: Cory Conacher- SAVE

PHI: Sean Couturier- SAVE

Round 2:

TBL: Brayden Point- GOAL

PHI: Nolan Patrick- SAVE

Round 3:

TBL: Steven Stamkos- GOAL

Stamkos scored the game winner in the shootout capping off his 1st career 5-point game to give the Lightning a 7-6 win over the Flyers. This was the 3rd and final meeting between the two teams before the playoffs start.

The Flyers next game is tomorrow at 3pm against the Florida Panthers (31-25-6). It is the 3rd and final meeting between the two teams. The first game was back in October where the Flyers won 5-1 and the second game was in December where the Panther won 3-2. This 3rd game will decide the season series between the two. Having gone to a shootout today it gave the Flyers 1 point to put them 3 points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins (36-25-4) and tied for 1st place with the Washington Capitals (36-21-7) with 79 points apiece. The Flyers look to the New York Islanders (29-29-7) who play the Penguins and the Toronto Maple Leafs (39-20-7) who play the Capitals for some help. They need both the Capitals and Penguins to lose tonight to help their case for 1st place in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers need a win in Florida tomorrow as the look to climb the ladder in the standings. Can they get the help from the Leafs and Islanders? Will they drop 3 in a row to the Panthers tomorrow? Can they get back on the winning side? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

-Anthony Calabrese

Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor

Hurricanes Blow Flyers Away

          HurricanesPicture Courtesy of NHL.com

 

The Philadelphia Flyers (34-20-10) took on the Carolina Hurricanes (28-25-11) on Thursday night. The Flyers were looking to make it 7 straight wins in a row and the Hurricanes were looking to break a 6-game losing streak. The Flyers have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL as of late climbing all the way back up into the 1st place position in The Metropolitan Division brief time. The Hurricanes have been fighting to get into the playoff picture. It’s a must win game for the Flyers to keep their momentum going and continue the 10-0-1game streak, including the 11-game point streak. The game saw Petr Mrazek in goal for the Flyers and Cam Ward in goal for the Hurricanes.

The 1st period started off with an early penalty against the Flyers, a high-sticking minor on Taylor Leier against Derek Ryan. This gave the Hurricanes the first powerplay of the game, but were unsuccessful. However, just one second after the powerplay was over there was a shot on net and Mrazek thought he had it, but it dropped behind him. The former Flyer, Justin Williams, picked up the garbage and put the puck in the net for his 11th goal of the season. Jeff Skinner (19) and Jaccob Slavin (14) both got the assists giving the Hurricanes the early 1-0 lead. The period ended with a shot total of 12-7 in favor of the Hurricanes.

The Flyers look to start the 2nd period on a better note as they try to tie the game up and get the lead. Unfortunately, the 2nd period started just like the 1st. 5:39 into the period, Teuvo Teravainen (17) had accepted a pass from Sebastian Aho from behind the net and fired it passed Mrazek for a 2-0 lead for the Hurricanes. Aho (27) and Justin Faulk (18) got the helpers on the goal. So, the Flyers at this point were trying to minimize the damage to keep themselves in the game. The Hurricanes were controlling in the Flyers’ zone and a shot from the point was deflected in the net from, once again, the former Flyer Justin Williams (12). Brett Pesce (13) and Jordan Staal (21) had the assists on the goal and now the Flyers were looking at a 3-0 lead. The period ended with a shot total of 16-7 in favor of the Hurricanes.

The start of the 3rd period, the Flyers were in desperate need to turn this game around being down 3-0 and outshot 28-14 at this point. The Flyers started the way they needed to. There was a two-on-one for the Flyers going into the zone and a pass to Travis Konecny (16) who tipped it into the net 1:20 into the period to cut the lead to 3-1. Sean Couturier (33) and Claude Giroux (53) got the helpers on the goal. Now, with a little momentum the Flyers looked to keep chipping away at the Hurricanes lead. But, tonight just wasn’t the Flyers’ night. 14:23 into the period Sebastian Aho (23) accepted a pass from Williams (29) and put the puck top shelf to make it a 4-1 lead for the Hurricanes. Williams had the only assist on the play. The game ended with a final score of 4-1 and a shot total of 8-7 in favor of the Flyers.

Unfortunately, you can’t win every game and tonight just wasn’t a night for the Flyers. The Hurricanes just played better hockey than the Flyers tonight and Cam Ward played a great game. The Hurricanes were able to snap a 6-game losing streak and stop the Flyers from winning 7 games in a row. Both teams play each other two more times this season so, next time the Flyers will be looking for a little payback. The Flyers’ next game is against the top team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning (44-17-4). The Flyers look to bounce back against the Lightning and continue to fight for that 1st place spot in the division. This upcoming stretch for the Flyers is going to be a challenge as they play teams that are in the playoffs or just out of the picture. They are going to have to strap down for the final 18 games of the season to get the best position as possible. Luckily, the Boston Bruins (39-15-8) were able to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins (36-25-4) 8-4 to keep the Flyers in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division. Can the Flyers get back to winning and knock off the top team in the Lightning? Tune in Saturday and find out as the push for 1st place continues!

-Anthony Calabrese

Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor

The Streak Continues

            mrazek savePicture Courtesy of NHL.com

 

Tonight, marked the third and final meeting between the Philadelphia Flyers (34-19-10) and the Montreal Canadiens (23-29-10). The Flyers having won the previous two matchups, looks to sweep the Canadiens playing for the first time in Montreal this season. The Flyers come into this game 9-0-2 in their last 11 games and 1 point out of 1st place in the Metropolitan Division. Philadelphia is looking to make it 6 straight wins while they continue their climb in the standings. The Flyers had Petr Mrazek starting his 3rd game in a row in between the pipes, looking to continue his win streak since being traded to Philadelphia. The Canadiens had Charlie Lindgren start in goal.

The Flyers looked to start this game on the offensive and though there wasn’t any goals scored the Flyers poured the shots on early. Not only that, the game started with some fireworks. 31 seconds into the game Max Pacioretty tripped Travis Konecny and Shayne Gostisbehere went to the offensive. Gostisbehere went after Pacioretty but, it resulted in a 2-minute roughing minor for the both players. It gave the Flyers and early powerplay. However, they were unsuccessful in the early attempt. The period ended with a shot total of 10-3 in favor of the Flyers and a 0-0 score.

The 2nd period, which is supposed to be the Flyers’ period, was a little sloppy and the Canadiens showed some life throughout the period. A goalless tie always makes you hold your breath no matter what happens. At 6:33 into the period, Jacob De La Rose had an interference penalty against Claude Giroux, which gave the Flyers their second powerplay of the night. Again, they came up short on the powerplay. As the period went on both teams had great chances but, for every chance had, Mrazek and Lindgren were there to steal the opportunity. Then at 14:35, Ivan Provorov tripped Noah Juulsen to give the Canadiens their only powerplay of the game. At this point, it’s a 0-0 game and now the Flyers must kill a powerplay. Every opportunity that the Canadiens had, and on the powerplay they had their chances, Mrazek was there to answer the call. They held the Canadiens and kept the game a scoreless game. The period ended with a shot total of 15-8 in favor of the Canadiens.

As the 3rd period started both teams were trying to figure out the other teams’ goalie because they were shutting everything down. Just like the first two periods it was opportunity after opportunity, chance after chance and no one could find the back of the net. Then at 13:35, the Flyers had another chance on the powerplay as Jonathan Drouin tripped Jakub Voracek to give them another man advantage. As they continued to throw the puck at the net, again they could not score. The 3rd period ended scoreless and a shot total of 10-4 in favor of the Flyers.

After not being able to end it in regulation the game would then move to overtime. But, bringing the game to overtime gave the Flyers at least 1 point and that 1 point put the Flyers in a tie with the Capitals for the 1st place position in the Metropolitan Division. So, that extra point out there for grabs was that much more important to the Flyers. Going into the overtime period the Flyers are 8-5, the Canadiens are 3-5. So, the advantage was on the Flyers side. The beginning of the period saw the Canadiens have control of the puck in the Flyers’ zone. They had possession for a good chunk of the period and didn’t let the Flyers get a line change. A combination of tired players and good possession by the Canadiens it looked like a loss for the Flyers. However, Mrazek once again came to the aide of the Flyers and stopped whatever the Canadiens threw at him. Until the Flyers were able to clear the puck and get the change they so desperately needed. Towards the end of the period Konecny almost ended the game with a beautiful combination of moves, shot the puck and it hit the post. After a few more shots from both teams the period ended. The shot total was 6-5 in favor of the Canadiens for a game total of 33-28 in favor of the Flyers. Scoreless in the overtime period the two teams would then head to the shootout to decide the game. The results of the shootout were as followed:

Round 1:                                                        Round 4:

MTL Alex Galchenyuk- MISS                       MTL Artturi Lehkonen- SAVE

PHI Claude Giroux- SAVE                            PHI Jordan Weal- SAVE

Round 2:                                                        Round 5:

MTL Paul Byron- GOAL                               MTL Charles Hudon- SAVE

PHI Nolan Patrick- MISS                               PHI Travis Konecny- SAVE

Round 3:                                                        Round 6:

MTL Jonathan Drouin- MISS                        MTL David Schlemko- SAVE

PHI Jakub Voracek- GOAL                           PHI Sean Couturier- GOAL

The Flyers won the game 1-0 in the shootout. For the second game in a row vs Montreal it was Jakub Voracek who started the scoring by walking in on goal and just simply shooting the puck past Lindgren. Followed up my Sean Couturier doing almost the exact same thing but, threading the needle to put the puck past him. Although the shootouts are exciting but, for Flyers’ fans aggravating and nerve racking the goalies stole the show. Now, when I say, “stole the show,” that being a complete under exaggeration of the game tonight both, Petr Mrazek and Charlie Lindgren played on top of their heads. It was one of the best goalie performances I’ve seen all year. There was a reason it was a scoreless game and these two deserve high praise for the game tonight.

The Flyers have now won 6 straight and are 10-0-1 in their last 11 games. Petr Mrazek, since being traded from Detroit, is 3-0 as a Flyer with tonight being his 1st shutout in the orange and black. With the Columbus Blue Jackets (32-26-5) defeating the Washington Capitals (35-21-7) 5-1, the Flyers now have sole possession of 1st place in the Metropolitan Division. With 19 games left, the Flyers look to continue this impressive winning streak and build a space between them and everyone else. The Flyers next game is on Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes (27-25-10). Will the winning streak continue? Can the Flyers keep the 1st place spot heading into the playoffs? Tune in on Thursday and find out!

-Anthony Calabrese

Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor

NHL Trade Deadline 2/26/18

trade deadlinePicture Courtesy of NHL.com

 

Trade deadline day…it’s probably one of the most exciting days next to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s a day where teams looking to make a deep run in the playoffs try to add rental or even long-term players down the stretch. Usually, there are moves on top of moves but, this year it wasn’t about how many moves were made. The main point of this deadline was about who actually moved. There was a record 5 1st round draft picks dealt with a potential 6 depending on if a player signs or not. Also, a few big-name players on the move and big-name players that stayed with their current teams who were believed to be on the move. Now, you can’t just talk about the one day for trades so what I’ll do for you is recap the entire month of February.

 

February 3rd: Dallas Stars-Nashville Predators

Dallas Stars acquire D Andrew O’Brien

Nashville Predators acquire F Mark McNeill

February 5th: Los Angeles Kings-Vegas Golden Knights

LA Kings acquire future considerations

Vegas Golden Knights acquire D Zac Leslie

February 8th: New Jersey Devils-Minnesota Wild

New Jersey Devils acquire F Christoph Bertschy, F Mario Lucia

Minnesota Wild acquire D Viktor Loov

February 9th: Washington Capitals-New York Rangers

Washington Capitals acquire F Adam Chapie, F Joe Whitney

New York Rangers acquire F John Albert, D Hubert Labrie

February 13th: Los Angeles Kings-Ottawa Senators

LA Kings acquire D Dion Phaneuf, F Nate Thompson

Ottawa Senators acquire F Marian Gaborik, F Nick Shore

February 15th: Chicago Blackhawks-Ottawa Senators

Chicago Blackhawks acquire F Chris DiDomenico

Ottawa Senators acquire D Ville Pokka

February 15th: St. Louis Blues-Toronto Maple Leafs

St. Louis Blues acquire F Nikita Soshnikov

Toronto Maple Leafs acquire 4th round 2019 NHL Draft pick

February 19th: Washington Capitals-Chicago Blackhawks

Washington Capitals acquire D Michal Kempny

Chicago Blackhawks acquire 3rd round 2018 NHL Draft pick

February 19th: Philadelphia Flyers-Detroit Red Wings

Philadelphia Flyers acquire G Petr Mrazek

Detroit Red Wings acquire a conditional 4th round 2018 NHL Draft pick and a conditional 3rd round 2019 NHL Draft pick

February 20th: Boston Bruins-New York Rangers

Boston Bruins acquire D Nick Holden

New York Rangers acquire D Rob O’Gara and 3rd round 2018 NHL Draft pick

February 20th: San Jose Sharks-Toronto Maple Leafs

San Jose Sharks acquire F Eric Fehr

Toronto Maple Leafs acquire a 7th round 2020 NHL Draft pick

February 21st: Washington Capitals-Montreal Canadiens

Washington Capitals acquire D Jakub Jerabek

Montreal Canadiens acquire a 5th round 2019 NHL Draft pick

February 21st: Los Angeles Kings-Arizona Coyotes

LA Kings acquire F Tobias Rieder, G Scott Wedgewood

Arizona Coyotes acquire G Darcy Kuemper

February 22nd: Florida Panthers-Boston Bruins

Florida Panthers acquire F Frank Vatrano

Boston Bruins acquire a 3rd round 2018 NHL Draft pick

*February 22nd: New Jersey Devils-New York Rangers

New Jersey Devils acquire Michael Grabner

New York Rangers acquire D prospect Yegor Rykov and a 2nd round 2018 NHL Draft pick

February 23rd: Pittsburgh Penguins-Ottawa Senators-Vegas Golden Knights

Pittsburgh Penguins acquire F Derick Brassard, F Vincent Dunn, F Tobias Lindberg and a 3rd round NHL 2018 Draft pick

Ottawa Senators acquire D Ian Cole, G Filip Gustavsson, 1st round 2018 NHL Draft pick and a 3rd round 2019 NHL Draft pick

Vegas Golden Knights acquire F Ryan Reaves and a 4th round NHL Draft pick

February 24th: New York Islanders-Edmonton Oilers

New York Islanders acquire D Brandon Davidson

Edmonton Oilers acquire a 3rd round 2019 NHL Draft pick

February 25th: Boston Bruins-New York Rangers

Boston Bruins acquire F Rick Nash

New York Rangers acquire F Ryan Spooner, F Matt Beleskey, D Ryan Lindgren, 1st and 7th round 2018 NHL Draft picks

February 25th: Toronto Maple Leafs-Montreal Canadiens

Toronto Maple Leafs acquire F Tomas Plekanec, F Kyle Baun

Montreal Canadiens acquire F Kerby Rychel, D Rinat Valiev and a 2nd round NHL Draft pick

February 25th: Columbus Blue Jackets-Nashville Predators

Columbus Blue Jackets acquire F Mark Letestu

Nashville Predators acquire a 4th round NHL Draft pick

February 25th: Nashville Predators-San Jose Sharks

Nashville Predators acquire F Brandon Bollig, G Troy Grosenick

San Jose Sharks acquire a 6th round 2018 NHL Draft pick

February 26th: Columbus Blue Jackets-Ottawa Senators

Columbus Blue Jackets acquire D Ian Cole

Ottawa Senators acquire F Nick Moutrey and a 3rd round 2020 NHL Draft pick

February 26th: Nashville Predators-Chicago Blackhawks

Nashville Predators acquire F Ryan Hartman and a 5th 2018 NHL Draft pick

Chicago Blackhawks acquire F Victor Ejdsell, 1st and 4th round 2018 NHL Draft picks

February 26th: Winnipeg Jets-St. Louis Blues

Winnipeg Jets acquire F Paul Statsny

St. Louis Blues acquire 1st 2018 NHL Draft pick, rights to F Erik Foley and obtain half of Statsny’s contract

February 26th: Vancouver Canucks- Vegas Golden Knights

Vancouver Canucks acquire F Brendan Leipsic

Vegas Golden Knights acquire D Philip Holm

February 26th: Columbus Blue Jackets-Arizona Coyotes

Columbus Blue Jackets acquire F Ryan Kujawinski

Arizona Coyotes acquire F Jordan Maletta

February 26th: Anaheim Ducks-New York Islanders

Anaheim Ducks acquire F Jason Chimera

New York Islanders acquire F Chris Wagner

February 26th: Winnipeg Jets-Montreal Canadiens

Winnipeg Jets acquire D Joe Marrow

Montreal Canadiens acquire a 4th round 2018 NHL Draft pick

February 26th: Montreal Canadiens-Minnesota Wild

Montreal Canadiens acquire D Mike Reilly

Minnesota Wild acquire 5th round 2019 NHL Draft pick

February 26th: Calgary Flames-Ottawa Senators

Calgary Flames acquire F Nick Shore

Ottawa Senators acquire 7th round 2019 NHL Draft pick

February 26th: Pittsburgh Penguins-Carolina Hurricanes

Pittsburgh Penguins acquire F Josh Jooris

Carolina Hurricanes acquire F Greg McKegg

February 26th: Boston Bruins-Chicago Blackhawks

Boston Bruins acquire F Tommy Wingels

Chicago Blackhawks acquire a conditional 5th round 2019 NHL Draft pick

February 26th: Nashville Predators-Arizona Coyotes

Nashville Predators acquire F Tyler Gaudet, D John Ramage

Arizona Coyotes acquire D Trevor Murphy, F Pierre-Cedric Labrie

February 26th: New York Rangers-Colorado Avalanche

New York Rangers acquire D Chris Bigras

Colorado Avalanche acquire D Ryan Graves

February 26th: New Jersey Devils-Edmonton Oilers

New Jersey Devils acquire F Patrick Maroon

Edmonton Oilers acquire a 3rd round 2019 NHL Draft pick, F Joey Dudek

February 26th: Columbus Blue Jackets-Vancouver Canucks

Columbus Blue Jackets acquire F Thomas Vanek

Vancouver Canucks acquire F Tyler Motte, F Jussi Jokinen

February 26th: San Jose Sharks-Buffalo Sabres

San Jose Sharks acquire F Evander Kane

Buffalo Sabres acquire a conditional 1st round 2019 NHL Draft pick, 4th round 2019 NHL Draft pick, and F Dan O’Regan

February 26th: Vegas Golden Knights-Detroit Red Wings

Vegas Golden Knights acquire F Tomas Tatar

Detroit Red Wings acquire a 1st round 2018 NHL Draft pick, 2nd round 2019 NHL Draft pick and 3rd round 2021 NHL Draft pick

February 26th: Tampa Bay Lightning-New York Rangers

Tampa Bay Lightning acquire D Ryan McDonagh, F JT Miller

New York Rangers acquire F Vladislav Namestnikov, D Libor Hajek, F Brett Howden, 1st round 2018 NHL Draft pick, a conditional 1st round 2019 NHL Draft pick

Notable Waiver Pickups:

Philadelphia Flyers pickup D Johnny Oduya

Calgary Flames pickup F Chris Stewart

Colorado Avalanche pickup D Mark Alt

Some of the names, such as, Ottawa Senators’ Erik Karlsson and Montreal Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty were rumored to move today but, the clubs could not find any trade partners today. However, Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, Evander Kane and Tomas Tatar were some of the big names that found new homes the past two days. The busiest team by far was the New York Rangers, as they are in rebuild mode. They were the big sellers this year in the hopes they can build for years to come. The Rangers also completed a deal with the New Jersey Devils for F Michael Grabner, which marks the first ever time in history these two teams ever completed a trade with each other. So, the deadline brought us some interesting moves. The Evander Kane deal, in my opinion was surprisingly light. Only two draft picks in 2019 and Dan O’Regan, I think San Jose got the steal of the deadline for sure. The Golden Knights add to an already high-powered offense with Tatar but, a 2018 1st, a 2019 2nd and a 2021 3rd is a pretty big commitment. You have to imagine the Golden Knights plan to sign Tatar at the end of the year. But, just like every season the deadline has passed and now teams are locked in for the long haul. Will the moves made over the past few days help teams in their playoff runs? We will have to wait and see!

-Anthony Calabrese

Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor

A Saturday Matinee

               giroux goal Picture Courtesy of NHL.com

 

Today was the 3rd and final between the Philadelphia Flyers (33-19-10) and the Ottawa Senators (21-30-10). This final game saw the Flyers on the road in Ottawa and the Flyers were looking for their first win against the team this year. The first two games saw a 5-4 Ottawa win and 4-3 (SO) win for Ottawa as well. So, on top of the current point streak the Flyers are on, plus, that attempt of the first win versus the Senators; this game had a lot of meaning for the Flyers. This game also had some good news for the Flyers as Travis Konecny returned to the lineup which put the top line of Giroux, Couturier, and Konecny back together. The game saw Petr Mrazek (9-7-3) start his 2nd game in a row, in between the pipes, for the Flyers and Craig Anderson (17-19-3) start for the Senators. Mrazek came into this game with a career record 4-0-2 all-time versus the Senators.

The 1st period saw one of the quickest starts if the past few games. 28 seconds into the period the Flyers brought the puck into the Senators’ zone. Ivan Provorov pinched in, shot the puck and scored for his 11th goal of the year, putting him in the top 5 among d-men in scoring. Claude Giroux (52) and Shayne Gostisbehere (40) got the assists to put the Flyers up 1-0 early on. The scoring would continue for the Flyers. 7:14 into the period Ottawa tried clearing the puck but, Robert Hagg was able to knock the puck down with his glove, side step one Senator shoot the puck and put it past Anderson to put the Flyers up 2-0. The goal was Hagg’s second of the year and it was unassisted. Then at 11:22 Gostisbehere got a hooking penalty against Ryan Dzingel to give the Senators their first powerplay of the game. At 12:14, with a little give and go with the puck, Mike Hoffman (17) scored on the short side to cut the lead to 2-1. This was a powerplay goal assisted by Thomas Chabot (11) and Bobby Ryan (15). The period ended with a shot total of 12-11 in favor of the Flyers.

The 2nd period was full of sloppy play on both sides of the puck but, the goalies were able to keep the puck out of the net. Until, 12:05 into the period Hoffman shot the puck on Mrazek. Mrazek let up a rebound and Zack Smith put the puck in the net. However, Flyers’ coach Dave Hakstol looked at the replay and challenged the goal. Hakstol was challenging the goal saying the Senators were offsides. Now, if the Flyers lose the challenge they get a delay of game penalty. The referees went over to get on the phone with Toronto, where there is an NHL official looking over the plays. They got the call and upon further review the replay showed the Senators were offsides so, the goal was negated. The rest of the period neither team was able to muster up any goals. The period ended with a shot total of 12-10, again in favor of the Flyers.

The Flyers headed into the 3rd period with a 2-1 lead and they were hoping to add more to that lead. Just like that, 4:15 into the period Brandon Manning found Giroux behind everyone to give him a breakaway opportunity. Giroux made a deke and put the puck past Anderson for his 22nd goal of the season. Manning (8) had the lone assist and the Flyers went up 3-1 early in the period. That goal for Giroux was his 7th in the last 9 games, as well as, 8 points in the last 4 games and 16 points in the last 9 games. But, it didn’t stop there. Oskar Lindblom made a great play to get the puck away from Erik Karlsson. Lindblom, then passed the puck down the puck to Jakub Voracek, who passed to Manning. Manning shot the puck towards the net from the puck and it went in. Originally, the goal was thought to be Manning’s but, as they looked closer it was clear that Nolan Patrick tipped the puck into the net. This goal (7:05) was Patrick’s 9th of the season which, made it a 4-game goal streak for him. Manning (9) and Voracek (56) got the helpers on the goal to put the Flyers up 4-1. 1:51 later, Manning dumped the puck into the zone and Anderson went behind the goal to play the puck. But, it was just not a good day for the Senators, as the puck hit the glass in the corner and took one of the strangest bounces I’ve ever seen. The puck hit the corner and almost did a direct 90-degree bounce toward the net and went in. You couldn’t blame Anderson because 9.9 out of 10 times the puck goes around the boards. It was a bounce that went the Flyers way and the way they are playing these kinds of events happen. The was Manning’s 6th goal of the season with Radko Gudas (8) getting the assist and put the Flyers up 5-1. Having a lead like that, the Flyers were looking to protect that lead. Unfortunately, towards the end the Flyers were playing a little lackadaisical. It was 4 on 4 hockey as Jori Lehtera and Max McCormick both got minors for roughing. Zack Smith dropped the puck off and Ryan Dzingel came in a took a slap shot to blast it past Mrazek for his 17th goal of the year. Smith (13) and Mark Stone (36) got the helpers as they cut the lead to 5-2. With 57 seconds left in the period the Senators had the puck in the Flyers’ zone and it was collapsing. Matt Duchene was able to get down deep and take the puck from a rebound Mrazek let up, Mrazek thinking he had it, and backhand it into the goal for Duchene’s 17th of the season. As the final seconds ticked down the Senators pulled Anderson but, it wasn’t enough. The final score was 5-3 Flyers’ win.

This win gave the Flyers 5 wins in a row, as well as, 6 straight road game victories which was the first time the Flyers have done this since 2008. The Flyers are now 9-0-2 in their last 11 games with an 11-game point streak. Nolan Patrick had a career high 9 shots in the game. Brandon Manning had a 3-point game (1G, 2A). The Captain Claude Giroux continues to produce this year. Today’s game he put together a 2-point game (1G, 1A). So far, this year Giroux is in the top 5 of several stats which is helping the Flyers continue this current success. Giroux is 4th in the NHL in assists (52), 2nd in points (74), tied for 4th in powerplay points (30) and 3rd in faceoff % (59.21%); that is a minimum of 400 faceoffs. Giroux also has 649 points making him 7th all-time overall in Flyers history, as well as, his 22nd multi-point game this year.

The Flyers are now in a tie for 1st place in the Metropolitan Division with 76 points. The team they are tied with is the Pittsburgh Penguins (36-22-4). They are now 1-point ahead of the Washington Capitals (34-20-7). However, both teams play tonight at 7pm EST. All Flyers fans are rooting for the Buffalo Sabres (18-32-11) and the Florida Panthers (27-25-6). The Sabre play the Capitals and the Panthers play the Penguins. The Penguins hold the tie breaker with the Flyers but, the Penguins played 1 more game then the Flyers. So, the Flyers need a little help from the two teams.

The push for the 1st position continues as the Flyers next game is on Monday against the Montreal Canadiens (23-29-8). This will be the 3rd and final meeting between the two teams. The Flyers have defeated the Canadiens the previous two game 5-3 and last Thursday 3-2 in the thrilling overtime game. This will be the first and only time the Flyers will play in Montreal this year. They look to sweep the Canadiens this year and keep the point/win streak going. On the day of the trade deadline, will the Flyers make any move? Can the Flyers continue this exciting run as the push towards 1st place? Tune in Monday night to find out. I will also have full coverage on all the moves on deadline day around the NHL.

-Anthony Calabrese

Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor

More Late Game Magic for the Flyers

               Patrick Picture Courtesy of NHL.com

 

The Flyers, just coming off a huge overtime win against Montreal on Tuesday, continue their playoff climb on Thursday night. The Philadelphia Flyers (32-19-10) faced off against the Columbus Blue Jackets (30-26-5) in a Metropolitan Division show down. This was the 3rd of 4 meetings between the two teams and their second game against each other in a little over a week. The game on February 16th, being the 2-1 OT win for the Flyers. Tonight’s game saw Sergei Bobrovsky starting in goal for the Blue Jackets. The Flyers had Petr Mrazek start in his first game for the team since being traded on Monday. Unfortunately, the injury bug once again hit the Flyers. This time it was right before game time as Travis Konecny was on the ice for the pregame warmups but, in the end wasn’t able to compete. In his place, the Flyers had Taylor Leier ready to step up.

The Flyers have been making a case for themselves as being one of the hottest teams in the NHL since late December. They came into this game 7-1-2 in their last 10 games and were looking to continue that hot streak. In the 1st period it was another aggressive start for the Flyers as they brought the shots to former teammate, Bobrovsky. Though, the shots started heavy there was a lack of goals from both teams but, a few penalties from both. It was a battle of the worst power play in the NHL, from the Blue Jackets, against the 28th ranked penalty kill in the NHL, being the Flyers. On the flip side, we also saw the 6th best power play (Flyers) against the 27th ranked penalty kill (Blue Jackets). However, neither team was able to capitalize on their opportunities. The biggest part of the 1st period was how Petr Mrazek would do in his first start for the Flyers. After making a great save for his 1st save as a Flyer, it was probably one of the easiest 1st periods on a new team I’ve ever seen. The shot total was 7-2 in favor of the Flyers. Mrazek only saw two shots in the first period. I don’t know what more you could ask for, for an opening period.

The second period, this year, has been the period for the Flyers. As a team, the Flyers have 74 2nd period goals which is tied for third in the NHL. But, it wouldn’t start out the way the Flyers would have hoped. After an unsuccessful powerplay attempt for the Flyers, Artemi Panarin who was serving the Blue Jackets minor, came out of the box and intercepted an attempted pass to Andrew MacDonald. Panarin skated down the ice and at 12:51 in the second period, put it passed Mrazek to give the Blue Jackets the 1-0. This goal was Panarin’s 17th of the year, as well as, his 200th career NHL point. It was also unassisted. The 2nd period was pretty sloppy for the Flyers, as Panarin caught the entire team sleeping. The period ended with a shot total of 14-6 in favor of the Blue Jackets.

Going into the 3rd period the numbers, for the most part, were against the Flyers. The Blue Jackets were 11-9-3 vs the Metropolitan Division, as well as, 18-2-2 when leading after two periods this season. However, the Flyers were 12-6-10 when playing in one-goal games so, hope wasn’t lost. Plus, it was a 1-0 game and the Flyers are the comeback kids anyway, right? Just like that, 2:34 into the 3rd period, Claude Giroux capitalized on a broken play and brought the puck into the slot to score his 21st goal of the season. Sean Couturier (32) and Shayne Gostisbehere (38), both had the helpers on his goal. Then, on a power play that had been struggling all night, Giroux won his 13th consecutive faceoff and passed back to Gostisbehere, who then sent it toward the net. Bobrovsky made the save but, let up a rebound and Nolan Patrick was in front to put it home and take the 2-1 lead. Gostisbehere (39) and Giroux (51) both had the helpers on Patrick’s 8th goal of the season and 2nd powerplay goal in 2 consecutive games. The Flyers’ 2 goals came on 3 shots. After Giroux’s goal the team was reenergized as they were able to take the lead. Then, with 1:28 left the Blue Jackets called a time out, they pulled Bobrovsky as the next faceoff was in the Flyers’ zone. The Flyers had multiple chances to put the puck in the empty net but, every chance was met with too many passes or just missed shots. It didn’t matter though, as the Flyers were able to win the game 2-1 with a shot total of 20-20.

Unfortunately, the NHL only has 3-stars of the game but, this game really had 5. You have to give one to Panarin for scoring the Blue Jackets’ only goal but, in my opinion you had 4 Flyers’ players win the game for them. Really in a game they could’ve easily lost if it wasn’t for the late game play. The Flyers’ players were, in no particular order, Petr Mrazek, Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere and Nolan Patrick. Mrazek had a stunning performance for his 1st game giving up only on goal on 19 shots. Giroux was able to reenergize the team with his goal and with the 2-point night that he had (1G, 1A), he took sole possession of 2nd overall in points in the NHL this year with 72. Gostisbehere had a 2-point night of his own (2A) but, he has been putting together a great season. He has scored points in 4 of the last 5 games and he now has 49 total points this season, which is a career high. On top of that, he has been playing great defensive hockey this year. Last, but not least, Nolan Patrick scored the game winner on the powerplay. He has been on the top PP-unit for the Flyers since Wayne Simmonds went down with an injury and like I said before Patrick now has 2 PP-goals in 2 consecutive games.

The Flyers were, once again, able to get help from fellow teams in the NHL. Tonight, that help came from the Florida Panthers and Minnesota Wild. The Panthers beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 and the Wild beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2. Both games won in regulation. The Devils losing helped the Flyers create space between them and the number 1 Wild Card spot held by the Devils. The Capitals losing helped the Flyers gain ground on the number 1 overall spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers now have 74 points which is tied with the 2nd place Pittsburgh Penguins however, the Penguins hold the tie breaker. The next game against the Penguins is March 7th so, it’s a huge opportunity for the Flyers to gain points on them. With the Flyers win and Capitals loss, the Flyers are only 1-point out of 1st place with the Capitals having 75 points. The Flyers have one more game against the Capitals on March 18th so, there is time before the next game.

The Flyers next game is on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators (21-29-10) in Ottawa. This will be the 3rd and final meeting between the two teams. The Flyers look to get their first win against the Senators this year. The first game back in October was a 5-4 loss and the second game back on February 3rd was a 4-3 overtime loss. As they continue their push for 1st place they look to take down a team that has had their number this season. Will the momentum of the Flyers being 8-0-2 in their last 10 keep them moving forward? Tune in Saturday to find out!

-Anthony Calabrese

Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor

OT Thriller in Philly!

otPicture Courtesy of google.com

 

The Philadelphia Flyers really know how to make games/win-streaks interesting. They go from an offensive show against the New York Rangers on Sunday with a 7-4 win, to an OT thriller tonight. The Philadelphia Flyers (31-19-10) faced off against a struggling Montreal Canadiens (22-29-8). A game where the Flyers needed as they continue the push for the number 1 seed in the Metropolitan Division. A win tonight was also needed because of the news Flyers have been dealing with the past couple days. Besides acquiring Petr Mrazek on Monday night, the Flyers were dealt two big injuries. We found how long Michael Neuvirth will be out for, 4-6 week (LBI), and now Wayne Simmonds will miss 2-3 weeks with an upper body injury. The news about Simmonds forced the Flyers called up, rookie, Oskar Lindblom for his 1st career NHL game. This game saw starting goaltenders, Alex Lyon in his 3rd start for the Flyers and Carey Price for the Canadiens.

The Flyers came into this game against a struggling Canadiens team. The Canadiens were 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. The beginning of the game showed us why, as the Flyers came out aggressive. They kept putting the puck on the net and did a great job keeping it in the Montreal zone. But, unlike the 6-goal 1st period against the Rangers, this opening period was defensive show. The only thing similar about the two opening periods was, for the Flyers, the opposing team scored first. Actually, the Flyers giving up the first goal has been a reoccurring thing as of late. Except, this first goal of the game didn’t come until late in the period. The Canadiens were able to bring the puck into the Flyers’ zone and they sent it towards the net to only be deflected into the goal. At 17:47 into the period, Jeff Petry (9), was able to deflect a shot from the point to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead. Karl Alzner (9) and Charles Hudson (14) got the helpers on Petry’s goal. The period ended 1-0 lead for the Canadiens with the shot total being, 10-8 in favor of the Flyers.

The 2nd period started just as the 1st period did, defensive. But, then at 6:41, Canadiens’ Jordie Benn was called for an interference penalty against Travis Konecny sending the Flyers to the first powerplay of the game. Usually, Simmonds is on the 1st powerplay unit but, because of his injury we saw Nolan Patrick move up to the first unit. Then, 37 seconds into the powerplay saw Shayne Gostisbehere charge into the zone with the puck. He dropped it back to Jakub Voracek, who was at the point, then Voracek passed across to Claude Giroux, who then passed it to Nolan Patrick (7) who tipped in to score his 1st career powerplay goal to tie the game at 1-1. Giroux (50) and Voracek (55) got the assists on the goal. Shortly after the goal, Brandon Manning got into his 4th fight this season against Nicolas Deslauriers. At 10:35 into the period, Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkonen tripped up Scott Laughton to give the Flyers their second powerplay of the game, but were unable to do anything with it. The period ended with the score tied 1-1 with a shot total of 13-12 in favor of the Canadiens.

When tied after 2 periods the Flyers are 6-4-3 this season. As for the Canadiens, when tied after 2 periods are 5-5-8. The 3rd period started just like the first two periods, you guessed it, a defensive battle. Until, almost halfway through the period 8:45 in, saw a little tic-tac-toe action to pull Lyon out of position leaving Paul Byron (14) out in front to score giving the Canadiens a 2-1 lead. Tomas Plekanec (17) and Brendan Gallagher (14) got the helpers on the go-ahead goal. For the rest of the period it was shot after shot, save after save, with the Flyers still down one goal. With less than two minutes left, Lyon looking towards the bench, the Flyers gained possession and headed up the ice. The Flyers pulled Lyon. At the other end, Sean Couturier did an excellent job and moving the puck and just as Lyon got to the bench to give the Flyers the extra attacker, Couturier passed it to Voracek, who shot the puck and scored with 1:25 left in the game. Voracek’s 12th goal of the season tied the game 2-2. Couturier (31) and Gostisbehere (36) got the assists. The Flyers held off the Canadiens to bring the game to overtime. The end of the 3rd period saw a shot total of 8-6 in favor of the Flyers.

So, at this point in the standing the Flyers hold the 3rd overall spot in the Metropolitan Division but, are tied with the New Jersey Devils who hold the number 1 wildcard spot, both with 70 points. The Flyers are also 5 points behind the 1st place Washington Capitals. Both, the Capitals and Devils played tonight as well. The Capitals played the Lightning and the Devils played the Blue Jackets. The Capitals lost 4-2 and the Devils lost 2-1 both, in regulation. So, going to overtime gives the Flyers a point advantage over the Devils and brings them within 4 of the Capitals. With this being the case, it makes that extra point so much more valuable to the Flyers.

Going into the overtime period the Flyers, in the 3 on 3 overtime, have a record of 7-5. The Canadiens have a record of 3-4 in the 3 on 3 overtime. The Flyers dominated most on the OT period giving the Canadiens only one real chance with possession of the puck. Then, Valtteri Filppula got the puck and passed it to Gostisbehere, who then passed it to Voracek. Voracek cut across to the middle of the ice and shot the puck. As quickly as he tied the game was as quickly as he ended the game. Once Voracek shot the puck it went into the net and the Flyers won the game. 1:25 into the OT period Voracek (13) scored his second of the night with help from Gostisbehere (37), for his second assist of the night, and Filppula (17). The OT period ended with a shot total of 3-0 in favor of the Flyers. The total number of shots in the game was 33-27, also in favor of the Flyers. Voracek was hands down the player of the game, scoring the game tying goal and the game winning goal. The game winning goal was Voracek’s 9th career OT goal and it also made it his 18th 2+ goal game. After having a 1-5 OT record this season, the Flyers have won 7 straight OT games. This game also giving Alex Lyon his second win of the season. In the past two games Lyon has given up 3 goals on a total of 53 shots which is pretty impressive.

This was the second of three meetings between the two teams, which the Flyers have already won the season series by winning the first two. Their third and final meeting will be on trade deadline day, February 26th. The Flyers next game will be on Thursday February 22nd against Metropolitan Division rival, Columbus Blue Jackets (30-25-5). A little less than a week ago the Flyers played the Blue Jackets and won 2-1 in overtime. This will be the 3rd out of 4 meetings between the two teams. Once again this is another important game, as the Flyers gained 2 points over the Devils and are now only 2 points behind 2nd place Pittsburgh Penguins with a game in hand. They are also now, 3 points behind the 1st place Washington Capitals.

With all of that out of the way there are now a few questions Flyers’ fans will most likely be asking themselves. Will we see Petr Mrazek make his 1st start in the orange and black on Thursday? With the injury to Wayne Simmonds, will the Flyers make any more trades before the deadline? Can the Flyers continue this momentum as they push for a better playoff position? This next week will be interesting so stay tuned and I will keep you all updated as best I can. I will also have a full recap on the trade deadline once it is over about all the moves that were made.

-Anthony Calabrese

Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor